Vocalist Jon Foreman explained this song to New Release Tuesday: "I am continually searching for meaning in my life. Why am I here? Why is there so much pain? This cold, dark stream of sorrow runs through my life. Why does it run alongside of the warm beautiful waters of joy and beauty? Why do the two rivers collide and intertwine? The dark and the light. The death and the life... Most of my songs become outlets for these questions. The music becomes place for the cognitive dissonance to chew away at something other than a broken heart or an ulcer. The music becomes a place to sort through the dark and the light. I love crosswords, sodoku, solitaire - games with a simple victory that allows me the momentary thrill of setting the world right. But song-writing feels like a similar discipline to me. A puzzle of letters and math, theory and rule, expression and passion.
The lyric of this song attempts to start at the womb and follow a human soul through life. And so it begins: the heart beats, the eyes open, breath floods the lungs for the first time- what incredible experiences! What extraordinary sensations! I wanted to write this from a father's perspective, from the eyes of the father of life. One look into the eyes of his son and the father is smitten for life. The possession that the young infant has over the father is complete. Always yours. The second verse speaks of the pain. This pain is always with us. We are born into a world of pain, the pain of losing a child, the pain of rejection, of racism, sexism, fears... these experiences rip us to pieces. Everyone feels pain. I look to those who have been through more pain than I will ever know for guidance on the subject.
The Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Victor Frankl survived several Nazi concentration camps with his life and his hope intact. He lost more than I'll ever know... his wife, his parents, and his family did not survive. His understanding of pain is in direct opposition to our western world that is often found running from pain at all costs. Frankl's "Case for a Tragic Optimism" speaks of turning suffering into human achievement and optimism in the face of tragedy. The memories, the pain, the scars, these are yours. Yes, the things that you and I have lost. These are yours and they have meaning. No, these could never be The Ultimate Meaning in our lives, but let these scars drive us towards "turning suffering into human achievement and accomplishment."
The bridge in the song is the acknowledgment of my own shortcomings. As a man born into beauty and pain, there is a moment of surrender where I lay down my life. This is a free volitional action, a gift, just as the father's love was given to me- this became the response. A simple surrender to the Infinite Maker of The Finite acknowledging that I need his love. The meaning in my life is often found in surrender rather than mastery."